So you did everything right. You did your research and homework about pregnancy and parenthood. You developed a labor, delivery, and Breastfeeding plan. BUT your baby comes early, and he is unable to Breastfeed within the first hour (like your written plan requests) PANIC!!! What do you do??
If the baby does not nurse in the first 1-2 hrs postpartum, you should begin pumping. The sooner you start pumping, the stronger the suggestion made to your body about how much milk it should produce.
The best pump to use if your little baby isn't strong enough to nurse from your breasts is a hospital-grade pump. Typically those made by Ameda or Medela work best. These pumps can be pricey, but are well worth the expense. If your budget is tight and purchasing a pump just doesn't fit in, consider renting one from the hospital or borrowing one from WIC (if you are eligible to receive their benefits).
Although in the first few days you can expect only a few milliliters of colostrum to be pumped each session, you should remain steadfast and pump every 2-3 hours or 8-10 times per day. After all, if your baby wasn't in the NICU, he would be breastfeeding at least that much. At least one pumping session MUST occur during the night; avoid going longer than 5 hours without pumping. Some moms find it helpful to set an alarm on their phone to remind them when to pump.
I hear you saying, "What? I have to wake up to pump?!" Let's face it, you have not slept through the night in months. All of that pressure on your bladder during pregnancy certainly had you waking to go to the bathroom all night, and don't even try to act like you were able to get and stay comfortable all night while carrying that extra 20-30lbs...please! Get up and pump for 15-20 min, then go back to sleep. Once mature milk is in a pumping session should last about 5min after seeing the last few drops of milk.
Everyone thinks that you just plug the pump in, hook it to your breasts, and out sprays the milk. However, for many, that isn't the case. There is an art to pumping, and it isn't the same for everyone. You may find it helpful to pump at the baby's bedside in the NICU, but others may be more relaxed pumping at home in a quiet room. Wherever you find it most comfortable to pump should be the place you use most. The biggest hint about pumping is DON'T BE A BOTTLE WATCHER!!! If you stare at the bottles while pumping, the milk won't come! When you pump relax, sip your favorite non-alcoholic beverage, set your stopwatch, and watch your favorite show or read your favorite book or magazine.
The purpose of pumping is to trick your body into thinking a baby is nursing by offering consistent, "suckle-like" stimulation to your breast; this renders adequate production of mature milk which is usually seen in about 5 days.The beautiful breastmilk you pump will be a key ingredient in your baby's prompt discharge from the NICU!